Uhuru orders repossession of grabbed fish landing sites
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday directed the State Department of Fisheries and the National Land Commission to repossess all public fish landing sites that were illegally acquired by unscrupulous people.
The President said that all gazetted fish landing sites at the coast, in lakes Victoria and Turkana and any other lakes or rivers in the country should be recovered and secured by the end of March 2019.
At the same time, President Kenyatta praised a local firm, One Holding Limited, for voluntarily returning Liwatoni fish landing site to the Government and urged other people who have illegally acquired such facilities to also surrender before Government takes action to repossess them.
The President was speaking when he launched the Kenya Coast Guard Service at Liwatoni in Mombasa County where he also signed two executive orders establishing the Kenya Fisheries Corporation and the Bandari Maritime Academy which will be critical in revitalizing the Blue Economy in Kenya.
Earlier, President Kenyatta witnessed the offloading of 150 tonnes of various types of fish worth Ksh.30 million.
At the event also attended by Deputy President William Ruto, the President said the Coast Guard Service shall, in cooperation with other national security organs, safeguard Kenya’s territorial waters.
“For too long we have experienced multiple problems with marine security including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by foreign trawlers, smuggling of contraband goods, degradation of marine ecosystems through discharge of oil, toxic waste dumping and the destruction of coral reefs and coastal forests,” said the President.
President Kenyatta noted that the country loses Ksh.10 billion annually through illegal fishing.
The Head of State said that apart from illegal fishing, the country and the region faces other security concerns such drug and human trafficking and trans-shipment of illegal arms which come through the sea because of lack of proper surveillance mechanisms.
“The Coast Guard will ensure that our ocean will no longer be used by drug and human traffickers, illegal arms dealers and illegal fishing vessels. It will guard against exploitation of our natural resources by foreign countries and ensure that never again will a foreign vessel steal our fish,” he said.
Saying the ocean is the emerging frontier for economic and social transformation of sea-facing states, President Kenyatta reiterated that Kenya was well positioned to emulate other countries that had excelled in the utilization of maritime resources.
“Our coastal and inland waters cover 222, 950 square kilometers, equivalent to 31 counties; of the global tuna catch of 4.35 million metric tons — worth about US $2-3 billion annually — one quarter is caught off Kenya’s coastline,” said the President.
The President announced that within the next five years, the government intends to create over 10,000 jobs through the establishment of trans-shipment and logistics hubs in Mombasa and Lamu.
“We will create a destination port for cruise ships, establish world-class training facilities in maritime studies, have a fully-fledged and operational national shipping line by urgently reviving the Kenya National Shipping Line,” said the President.
He said by strengthening the cruise-shipping sector, the country would create seafaring jobs, jump start coastal agriculture and agro-processing.
DP Ruto said the launch of the Coast Guard Service is a historic milestone which will transform the country’s economy for current and future generations.
“Government efforts to revive the Blue Economy is about enhancing our manufacturing sector, job creation and food security which are at the heart of the Big 4 agenda,” said the Deputy President.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i assured that the government will protect fishermen and Kenya’s marine resources and deal firmly with all criminal acts in Kenyan waters.
“We will not negotiate on our marine resources and our territorial security. From today we have assembled tools and coalesced resources within our security service to enable the Kenya Coast Guard Service to fully perform its functions,“ said the Interior CS.
At another function, President Kenyatta announced that the Lamu Port will be commissioned next year.
Speaking when he addressed the first Blue Economy Conference of the Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani regional bloc, President Kenyatta urged leaders to use resources prudently for the benefit of the people they lead.
Monday’s conference is a pre-cursor to the International Sustainable Blue Economy Conference slated for next week in Nairobi and is aimed at assessing the potential and developing strategizing for optimising the sector as a key economic driver in the region.
The conference was attended by Governors Ali Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Dhadho Godhana (Tana River), Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta) and Fahim Twaha of Lamu among other leaders.
The Head of State pointed out that the Coast region has always had the potential for robust economic growth and wondered what was holding it back. He challenged leaders from the region to find solutions to development challenges facing the people they lead instead of engaging in destructive politics.
“We must recognise that we cannot spend all our time engaging in politics. Politics will not fill our stomachs, politics will not create jobs for our young men and women, neither will it deliver roads and electricity to the people,” the President cautioned.
The President urged Coast leaders to interrogate what went wrong for the region to be in the current state where important economic sectors likes livestock, agriculture and fisheries were not performing satisfactorily unlike in the past and work a revival strategies.
“We must ask ourselves what happened and where did we go wrong so that as we start the process of what I call a ‘revival’, we must make sure that we shall never fall into that pitfall again,” President Kenyatta said.
The President urged leaders to recognise that politics is good in a democracy but it is not life and should not be applied at the expense of development.
President Kenyatta also asked the leaders to devote their energies in serving the electorate instead of pursuing selfish interests.
“As leaders, we must ask ourselves, do we still have the same commitment in terms of fulfilling what we must do. Are we committed to development of the people we lead or are we committed to ourselves,” President Kenyatta wondered.
Deputy President Ruto commended Governors for coming together under the umbrella of Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani to deliver development to the people of the region.
Later at State House Mombasa while handing a bus to Jilore Secondary School, the President congratulated all the 2018 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) candidates for their outstanding performance and assured them of full transition to secondary school in the new year.
The President commended the candidates, parents, teachers and all stakeholders involved in the management of KCPE exams this year for the low cases of cheating reported.
“It is satisfying that out of more the 1 million candidates who sat for the exam this, only four cases of exam cheating were reported,” the President noted.
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